Until last week, I’d underestimated rhubarb. It had been in my life a long time, in the form of my mom’s addictive strawberry-rhubarb pie, but I’d tended to ignore it. When I’d eaten rhubarb, it was always in pastries, pies or cakes, and always paired with fruits that are more appealing. Why pay attention to the weird, chopped vegetable (yes, rhubarb is classified as a veggie) in your dessert when you can focus instead on the sugary stuff?
But when I heard Pitango Gelato (in Capitol Hill, Logan Circle and Penn Quarter) was selling rhubarb sorbet, I decided to give solo rhubarb a shot, and maybe — finally — come to appreciate it. Here’s what ran through my head as I tasted a scoop.
First impression: Astonishing appearance! It’s rose-colored, which is not what I’d expected from the deep crimson, celerylike plant. Is this REALLY rhubarb?
First bite: Satisfyingly tart.
Second bite: Also sweet, juicy and fruity, but unlike berries and not exactly citrusy.
Third bite: It’s creamier than I’d expected, and there’s no trace of the stringiness of raw rhubarb. How do they make this stuff? (Answer: Pitango heats rhubarb in a pot with organic cane sugar and water until the stalks disintegrate into a smooth liquid, then throws the mixture in a gelato-maker to freeze. So simple. So transformative.)
20th and final bite: Could this be a healthy alternative to Sour Patch Kids?